Your spine requires plenty of water and nutrients to stay healthy and perform at its best, just like the rest of your body. The problem is, your spine is not able to absorb the water and nutrients it needs in the same way as other parts of the body, nor is it able to eliminate the wastes from metabolism. In a person’s early teens, the spinal discs lose the nutritional supply coming from blood, and the elimination system atrophies. Subsequently, the spine is only able to receive water and nutrients through osmosis and a process called imbibition. This last method occurs when the motion between vertebral discs acts as a pump to move fluids in and out of the discs. Thus, the health of your spine depends on movement. The sedentary lifestyles of most Americans (and especially senior citizens) make this problem worse.
As a person gets older and grows less active, the loss of spinal water can lead to disc degeneration and the eventual loss of motion between vertebral discs. Once this mobility is lost, further degeneration occurs more rapidly and the cycle of dehydration, shrinking, chronic pain and disease accelerates.
Proper hydration is essential for nutrient delivery, lubrication and waste elimination. Normal vertebral discs are 88% water, and because discs lose some of their water during the day, rehydration also proves essential for maintaining the height of each disc. Each sleep cycle will restore most of the daily water loss, but not all of it.
If a person begins to become dehydrated, the body will look to retrieve water from places like the spinal vertebrae first. So drinking abundant amounts of water throughout the day remains an important way of maintaining your spinal health.
Contrary to what has been reported by some in the media, certain aspects of spinal disc damage can in fact be repaired. Appropriate chiropractic care and spinal decompression therapy, along with exercise, nutrition and hydration programs, can often relieve pain and restore function WITHOUT the need for drugs or complex surgery.
Unlike other parts of the body that have abundant blood flow, spinal discs are slower to heal. This means that, while many chiropractic and spinal decompression patients find relief from their pain relatively quickly, it typically takes longer for the discs themselves to recover.
Of course, they say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. To keep your spine healthy, stay active, drink plenty of fluids every day and remember to see your chiropractor regularly.
Pico Rivera Chiropractor
Whether we like to admit it or not, the technology in our lives—and the fact that we use much of it while sitting down—is contributing to a growing list of health problems in our society. Those who sit at a desk all day or sit behind the wheel of a car or truck with little or no exercise are at increased risk for a number of chronic health problems. According to the Mayo Clinic, those who have such a sedentary lifestyle are in danger of things like “obesity and metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions that includes increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels.”
One study showed that those who spend a large amount of time in front of a television or other forms of screen entertainment had a roughly 50% greater risk of death from any source. It’s not really difficult to imagine why this might be the case. Greater body weight combined with lower strength and stamina and reduced balance and flexibility means less agility and durability. This in turn raises the likelihood of more accidents or injuries. The same study showed a 125% greater risk of problems from cardiovascular disease. Care was taken to separate the risk of sitting from that of high blood pressure. Those who had the same high blood pressure, but who sat less, had fewer incidents of health problems.
WebMD has added cancer to the list of ailments for which excessive sitting may be a risk factor. One Australian study of 63,000 older adult men showed that men who sat for more than 4 hours a day were more likely to have a serious, chronic illness than those who sat for less than 4 hours per day. Above 6 hours per day, men were at significantly greater risk of diabetes. Those who regularly sat more than 8 hours a day had the highest level of health risk.
Yet another study showed that back pain strikes 80% of all adults at some time in their life. A significant number of these people suffer because they sit too much. Their core muscles lose conditioning and their waistline becomes a burden that causes the back muscles to do more work to make up for soft abdominals. Weak muscles put the body at risk even during simple tasks. With a more sedentary lifestyle, it becomes easier and easier to overdo the reaching, the lifting or other simple physical work that occurs during any typical day.
There’s another reason that movement is particularly important when it comes to maintaining good spinal health. If the spine is kept motionless, circulation is reduced and it cannot get the nutrients it needs to stay healthy or to heal itself.
If you already have back pain, seeing a chiropractor is a big step in the right direction. A chiropractor can help to realign your vertebrae and, in many cases, an adjustment can provide immediate relief. However, even world-class chiropractic care is no substitute for a healthy lifestyle that includes a good diet and lots of exercise. The doctor can’t do all the work for you.
So what can you do? The Mayo Clinic recommends finding more excuses to move around throughout the day, instead of saving it up for a trip to the gym. Waiting until the end of the day to push your body at the gym for 30 minutes is a bit like saving your meals to the end of the month and eating 90 platefuls all at once. You need to spread your movement throughout the day so your body can stay in top condition.
When it comes to ease-of-movement, problems with our hips usually take a back seat to other joint problems that become more obvious as our musculoskeletal system ages. In particular, our back and knees are prone to problems that can restrict our activities and cause chronic pain. However, the health of our hips is actually crucially important in ensuring that we maintain mobility into old age because they are the center around which the forces of movement revolve.
Pain in both our back and our knees is often due to decreased hip mobility. A chronic lack of exercise combined with long hours of sitting, which is common to people with a desk job, causes the muscles around the hips (particularly the hip flexors) to become shorter and weaker. When this happens, range of motion is decreased and the back and knees take on much of the work that healthy mobile hips normally would. This causes the back and knees to work harder and can result in overuse injuries. If you’ve ever strained your back when picking up a heavy object, it may have been due to a lack of strength and mobility in your hips. In order to help prevent future injury to your back and knees, following are some of the best exercises for hip health and mobility.
Hip swings – Steady yourself with one hand on the back of a chair or similar object. Swing one leg forward and back, keeping it straight, and being sure to move from the hip and not the thigh. Do fifteen of these on each leg. Then change direction and practice swinging your leg across the front of your body and out to the side. Do fifteen sets of these as well. Try to move your torso as little as possible when doing this exercise for the greatest benefit.
Forward lunge – Standing with your feet hip-width apart, lunge forward with your right leg, bringing your left knee to the floor. Shift your weight forward until your right knee is perpendicular over your foot and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat lunge on opposite side.
Dog at the hydrant – While on hands and knees, lift one leg out to the side and draw small clockwise circles in the air with your knee, gradually making them larger. Then do the same using counter-clockwise circles. Repeat with the other leg.
Lying butterfly and variation – While lying on your back, bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together, with your knees pointing out to the sides. Hold for 30 seconds. Then bring your knees up so you are lying with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Bring the outside of your left ankle to rest on your right knee. Reach with your left hand through the little triangle made by your left leg to interlace your fingers behind your right thigh and gently pull your right leg toward your body (with your ankle still resting on the front of your knee). Repeat with the other leg.
It is estimated that up to 300 million tablet computers such as the iPad may be sold by 2015, which seems entirely possible, given their ubiquitous appearance on trains, in cafes, and even at the supermarket.
It has already been shown that frequent texting on your mobile phone can cause problems with neck pain, but those who use their tablet for everything from surfing the internet to watching full-length movies may be in for even more pain.
Commonly referred to as “iPad neck,” increasing numbers of people are showing up in their chiropractor’s office with neck pain and stiffness due to the use of this device.
The results of a study published in Work: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment, and Rehabilitation, found that the use of tablet computers was associated with greater head and neck flexion than traditional desktop computers and that placing the tablet higher on a table and using a case to put the tablet at a more optimal angle could help prevent neck and shoulder problems.
Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Microsoft Corporation studied 15 volunteers who were regular users of tablet computers. The subjects performed simulated tasks on an Apple iPad2 and a Motorola Xoom, during which the posture of the head and neck, the subjects’ gaze angle and gaze distance were measured by a three-dimensional infrared motion analysis system.
They surfed the internet, wrote e-mails, watched movies and played video games. Each tablet came with its own proprietary case that enabled users to set the tablet at different angles. The Apple case allowed for 15° and 73° tilt angles, while the Motorola case allowed angles of 45° and 63°. Greater flexion of the neck was found with the iPad2 when used in its case.
Not surprisingly, tablets set at the least perpendicular angle caused greater neck and head flexion than when the subjects used a desktop or laptop computer. Head and neck posture only began to approach a neutral position when the tablets were set in their cases at the Table-Movie angle in which they were closest to perpendicular.
The researchers recommended that tablet users place the devices on a table and at the steepest viewing angle possible to avoid neck and shoulder pain. However, they cautioned that this configuration might cause problems for the arms and wrists, which in this configuration are not optimally placed for input and can lead to problems of their own.
If you just cannot conceive of giving up your iPad, in addition to reducing the amount of time you spend using it, consider seeing your chiropractor on a regular basis. Chiropractic care has been shown to be more effective in treating neck pain than using pain medication.
A chiropractic adjustment can realign neck vertebrae and take the pressure off compressed nerves, bringing relief in a gentle, natural manner and allowing you to use your tablet more comfortably.